UNION, NJ – Marchers took to the streets on a spring-like day for the 20th anniversary of the Union County St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Thousands came out and lined the streets to watch as numerous pipe and drum bands, police associations, fireman, civic organizations, Irish dancers and hundreds of other marched up Morris and Stuyvesant avenues to the sounds of bagpipers and high school bands.
Among the dignitaries in attendance at the parade were U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy, State Senators Raymond Lesniak and Nicholas Scutari, Assemblyman Jamel Holley and Assemblywoman Annette Quijano, Union County Sheriff Joseph Cryan, and Union County Freeholders Bruce Bergen, Linda Carter, Vernell Wright, Bette Jean Kowalski and Chris Hudak.
Also at the parade were former Governor James McGreevey and Union County Surrogate James LaCorte, Roselle Park Mayor Carl Hokanson, Hillside Mayor Angela Garretson, Springfield Mayor Jerry Fernandez and Union’s Mayor Manuel Figueiredo.
The day began with the customary mass at St. Patrick’s Church in Elizabeth followed by a reception there and a procession of vehicles to the parade grandstand in Union.
As they do each year, a large contingent of state troopers marched with their band, “The Blue and Gold," in honor of deceased trooper and Union County resident Thomas Hanratty. This year, the troopers marched in honor of Trooper Sean Cullen, a native of Dublin, Ireland, who was killed in a motor vehicle accident while on duty earlier this week. At the parade grandstand, Trooper Cullen was honored with a New Jersey State Police helicopter fly-over and a moment of silence followed by words of remembrance and reflection by Father John McCrone.
This year's Grand Marshal Frank McGovern, with his many aides, led the parade. General Chairwoman Kerry Ricci said, “We had a spectacular day. It was fantastic to see so many families lining the streets to share in our celebration. Thank you to all those who worked so hard to make our Parade happen, especially all of our sponsors, the Township of Union, and Union County. We can't wait to do it all again next year!”
Ricci continued, "Adjutant Jessica Cunningham did an amazing job coordinating the Parade to get it on the street. We're all so proud of her."